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Book Review: Ordinary Monsters - J.M. Miro (ARC)

"England, 1882. In Victorian London, two children with mysterious powers are hunted by a figure of darkness—a man made of smoke.

Sixteen-year-old Charlie Ovid, despite a brutal childhood in Mississippi, doesn't have a scar on him. His body heals itself, whether he wants it to or not. Marlowe, a foundling from a railway freight car, shines with a strange bluish light. He can melt or mend flesh. When a jaded female detective is recruited to escort them to safety, all three begin a journey into the nature of difference, and belonging, and the shadowy edges of the monstrous.

What follows is a story of wonder and betrayal, from the gaslit streets of London, and the wooden theatres of Meiji-era Tokyo, to an eerie estate outside Edinburgh where other children with gifts - the Talents - have been gathered. There, the world of the dead and the world of the living threaten to collide. And as secrets within the Institute unfurl, Marlowe, Charlie and the rest of the Talents will discover the truth about their abilities, and the nature of what is stalking them: that the worst monsters sometimes come bearing the sweetest gifts.

Riveting in its scope, exquisitely written, Ordinary Monsters presents a catastrophic vision of the Victorian world—and of the gifted, broken children who must save it."

Pages: 672


I received Ordinary Monsters by J.M. Miro for free by Bloomsbury UK in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much Bloomsbury for my advanced copy and for having me on the tour!

Wow, this was an INTENSE read! Before I go into this review, please do check the content and trigger warnings if you are interested in reading this book - there are a lot of potential triggers and it’s always better to be safe!

I’m going to warn you now that this is a LONG read (over 650 pages) but it is worth it! Right from the start there is gripping action, detailed imagery and vivid gore that made me physically recoil a bit! I might be scared of my own shadow for a while now but I don’t even mind because of how much I liked this story! My heart was beating so fast in the first 100 pages and I’m pretty sure I forgot how to breathe for a couple of chapters because I was so invested. This story has the atmospheric brilliance of Jonathon Strange & Mr Norell combined with the powers and grittiness of The Umbrella Academy.

I loved the psychological element of not knowing who to trust - each character was morally grey in different ways, each thinking that what they are doing is for the greater good and willing to sacrifice anything to achieve it. Which, in turn, makes them wildly unpredictable and that to me makes for a great story! I love it when I can’t guess what is going to happen next, plus I loved the found family element as you all know it’s my most favourite trope!

The only thing that kind of took me out of the story was the sections of backstory that were put in after high action points - it threw the pacing off a little bit for me and although it was really interesting and added complexity to the characters I think it could’ve been placed somewhere different in the story to have more of an impact.

Overall though this was an absolutely FANTASTIC start to what I’m sure is going to be an epic series. If you were a fan of The Irregulars on Netflix then this is perfect for you! I’m really glad I went into this story not knowing much about it as it blew me away but I will reiterate please do check CW’s/TW’s before reading!!

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